Last updated on November 7th, 2023 at 07:55 am
Stoppage time in soccer is added to the official playing time clock to complete one of the 45-minute halves. In soccer, the running clock never stops, which means that injuries, throw-ins, fouls, penalty kicks, goal celebrations, and more interrupt the playing time of the match. When these moments occur during a game, the referee puts those time-wasting moments at the end of the half to make up for that, which is stoppage time. The time for stoppage time will vary depending on what took place during that half, so it can as little as one minute to 10 minutes (or more).
How Do They Determine Stoppage Time in Soccer?
The head referee calling the game tracks any “time-wasting” moments that occur during a game, usually with a second watch. For example, a red card moment in the first half that takes about a minute or so to resume action will, in theory, put an additional minute of stoppage time at the end of the half. As the game progresses and gets close to the end of the 45 or 90-minute mark, the head referee will communicate to the sideline official (fourth official) how much time to add via stoppage time.
Officials have been adding stoppage time to games since modern-day soccer began in the 19th century in England. One of the ideas of having an official determine the stoppage time for a game is out of respect for their role. Teams can’t argue if they think they deserve less or more time. Whatever the official believes should be the “additional time” goes since they officiate the game.
Stoppage Time, also known as allowance for time lost, is Law 7 of the Laws of the Game and FA Rules.
Why Does Soccer Have Stoppage Time Instead of Stopping the Clock?
One of the reasons that the soccer clock never stops is to make it simple for everyone. For example, if only one referee calls a High School or pickup game, they have to handle all aspects of the game. That includes calling fouls, looking for offsides, confirming substitutions, and more. The idea that they have to keep stopping the clock after every foul for a few seconds can lead to mistakes, like forgetting to resume the clock after a quick pause, thus creating confusion on the field.
Instead, by letting the clock run the entire time, they can use their best judgment to determine how much stoppage time is necessary to make up for any delays during the game. Usually, you will see the referee have a second watch on their wrist that they use to measure the additional time necessary at the end of the half.
How Many Minutes of Stoppage Time Get Added During a Match?
There is no universal stoppage time that gets added during a match. For example, some games are relatively clean and have no fouls or even goals. The referee could determine that there only needs to be one more minute of stoppage time in the end due to any balls going out of bounds or substitutions.
Meanwhile, there are times when there might be more delays during a game, especially after goal celebrations, that can add a few more minutes to the end of a half. To help limit the amount of wasted time, referees honor the Laws of the Game Rule 12. Rule 12 states that any delay of the game on purpose, like slowly walking towards the ball when it is out of bounds to take time off the clock, can result in a yellow card and a turnover. The idea is to keep the game moving since the clock is running.
28 Minutes of Stoppage Time
There is no maximum amount of stoppage time that can occur during a soccer game. For example, the Carabao Cup had 28 minutes of stoppage time added due to multiple factors that created delays. The lights went out during the match, and injuries took place, which added close to 30 minutes more of action to make up for the lack of play.
What are Examples of Stoppage Time?
- An injury delay occurs when players need a minute or so to get back on their feet. A longer injury time that results in a substitution will add more time to the clock
A goal celebration
- The soccer ball goes out of bounds or in the stands/ the throw-in.
- A yellow card or red card moment
- Penalty kicks
- Free kicks
- A VAR (video assistant referee) moment where officials need to review a play on a monitor to determine the correct call
- Lightning / any weather that determines that the game won’t be safe to occur
- Any mechanical / stadium issues that occur that stop the action of the play
Conclusion: What is Stoppage Time in Soccer?
In summary, stoppage time is additional time that occurs at each half of soccer. Since the clock runs up instead of down and never stops, there are instances where referees need to add a few minutes back on the clock to make up for time-wasting moments. Keeping the clock running without stopping it, even with delays, makes it easier for referees to manage, especially if only one is working for a pickup game.
There are numerous reasons why there are delays during a game. Some reasons include injuries, substitutions, goal celebrations, VAR checks, etc. These game delays might result in a few additional minutes of stoppage time at the end of the half. Soccer games are 90 minutes of official play, which is why there is stoppage time during matches.
Greg Kristan, owner of The Stadium Reviews, LLC and TM Blast, LLC, brings his extensive experience visiting over half of the MLB ballparks, along with numerous MLS, NHL, NBA, and NFL venues, to provide in-depth coverage on the bag policy, food options, and parking. He has also been interviewed about his experiences on several sports podcasts.